Basenji Dog Breed

Originated from Congo, the Basenjis are used both as sight and scent to hunt and were initially used for flushing small game into the hunters’ nets and control and managing the rodent populations. They are often referred to as the “barkless” dog but otherwise described as “talking dogs” as they tend to make their unique sound like a yodel. The Basenjis are known to be ultra-clean dogs that make them more cat-like than a dog. They will spend many hours cleaning themselves every time they have any dirt on their coats. Moreover, they use their paws to clean themselves, and because of this, they don’t have any sort of "doggy” smell in them.

The Basenjis are mid-sized dogs that boast an endearing look about them. They are friendly, curious and confident. In addition, they are intelligent and endearing, thus, making them great canine companions. The Basenjis form a deep and close bond with their families, but they tend to be closer with one person. Over the years, these endearing dogs have become one of the most popular choices as a family pet in Europe.

These active dogs can adapt to apartment living and can be a match for first-time dog owners. Just make sure to provide sufficient physical and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy. 

Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

Breed Information

40-43 cm
9.5-11 kg
Life Span:
14-16+ years
Smart, Alert, Independent, Affectionate, Active
Energy Level:
Country of Origin:
Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws
  • Exercise Needed Daily: 1 hour 6/10
  • Training: Medium 6/10
  • Grooming: Once a Week 2/10
  • Shedding: Low 2/10
  • Hypoallergenic: Low 2/10
  • Watchdog Ability: Low 2/10
  • Barking Level: Low 2/10
  • Environment: City & Countryside 6/10
  • Type of home: Apartment 2/10
  • Good with Children: Yes 10/10
  • Good with Other Animals: With Supervision 6/10


This dog breed is believed to have been around for a very long time. There are wall paintings and engravings in the Pharaoh’s tomb of Ancient Egypt that depicts very similar-looking dogs. However, in the 17th century, they were also found in Congo, where they were highly prized for their scenting skills. An explorer named Merolla found Basenjis in 1682 when he was travelling in Congo.

In 1880, a picture was taken at the Zoological Gardens in Paris showing the three dogs that were imported to France from Congo. These dogs look similar to the Basenji and the breed profile that was written at that time is very similar to the breed standard of the Basenji today. In many African countries, they were often referred to as “the jumping up and down dog” or M’bwa M’kube M’bwawamwitu.

In the 1930's, Mrs. Burns imported the male Basenji called Bongo of Blean, and the two female which become the foundation dogs in the United Kingdom. In 1936, the pair produced their first litter and the following year; their puppies were exhibited for the first time at Crufts.

In 1939, the first Basenji Club in the United Kingdom was established. And at the end of the Second World War, the number of Basenjis continued to rise. King Farouk of Egypt bought four Basenji puppies that had been bred in the United Kingdom by Veronica Tudor Williams in 1947 and were taken back to his palace in his private plane.

Nowadays, the endearing Basenjis are still used as a hunting dog in many African countries. They also have a big fanbase in the United Kingdom and across the world because of their sweet personality and being “barkless”. The Basenjis continues to be a great choice as a family pet and canine companions. 

Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws


Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

The Basenjis are small to medium-sized dogs. They are well-boned and boast a gallant look in them. Moreover, they are always alert and ready with a very graceful and poised demeanour. Basenjis have an intelligent and sweet look about them, with wrinkles on their eyebrows that adds to their general appeal.

They have well-proportioned and well-chiselled heads. As the Basenji pricks their ears, endearing wrinkles appear on their foreheads, giving them that quizzical expression on their faces. These wrinkles are more highlighted when they are puppies that make them look adorable.

Their almond-shaped ears are slightly hooded and dark in colour. They hold them upright and well-forward on their heads. Their mouths are strong and boast a perfect bite. Necks are very strong and powerful looking. It is well-crested and fuller at the base.

Their forequarters are strong and have a well laid-back shoulder and long, well-boned front legs. Their well-proportioned body is muscled with a shortish, level back over their well-sprung ribs. They have deep briskets that run cleanly into their well-defined waist. Their powerful hindquarters are strong-looking with long seconds thighs. Their back legs give them the impression that they are ready to sprint off after their prey. They have neat feet that are compact and narrow with well-arched toes and short nails. Tails are carried well over their backs, whether in a single or double curl.

The Basenji’s coat is very short, fine and sleek. Colours vary from Black Tan and White, Black and White, Brindle, Brindle and White, Red and White, Tricolour, and Black.

Any white colour should be on their feet, chest, and tips of their nails. Some dogs may have white legs or a white blaze and white collar, which is acceptable as a breed standard. 


The Basenjis are very friendly and kind. They are highly affectionate to their families; however, they can be aloof towards strangers. When they get to know someone, they become playful and amicable around them. They tend to form a deep bond with one particular person in the household, but all in all, they are very loving to all the members of the family.

In Africa, they are highly prized for their exceptional hunting skills. So, expect them to retain their natural instinct of high prey drive and being independent and free-spirited.

Because of being an active dog breed, the Basenjis must be kept busy physically and mentally to be truly happy and well-rounded dogs. They shouldn’t be left alone for long periods as boredom may kick in quickly. These energetic dogs are good escape artists as they can jump over high fences and hedges. It is also worth noting that this breed does not like water and being in it – another cat-like trait about them.

The Basenjis are a good choice for novice dog owners. Just make sure that you can provide ample time to dedicate to this intelligent and energetic dog as they require regular physical and mental stimulation.

As mentioned, this breed has a high prey drive. It will hunt and chase that caught r interest or moves and try to run away from them. Because of this, you must be careful all the time when they are outdoors as they could runoff, especially when there is livestock nearby. 

Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws


Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

These intelligent dogs are high spirited. However, they can be a little nervous at times that make them a little challenging to train. The Basenji’s training and socialization must start as early as possible, and you should have a lot of patience and understanding.

They are sensitive by nature; that’s why they do not respond well to any harsh method of training. Use positive reinforcement coupled with ample patience. Remember, Basenji puppies do not forget if they have any bad experience during their training. So, make sure that great care is practised when training Basenji puppies.

Introduce them to many new situations, environments, people, and other animals so they can grow up as well-balanced, confident, and outgoing dogs. 

Coat & Care

Known for their cat-like grooming habits, the Basenjis can keep themselves very clean, making them low maintenance. They don’t need bathing more than every few months. These dogs do shed, but it is so short and fine that it is not as noticeable as other dogs' shedding fur.

Daily dental hygiene is best in avoiding tooth and gum diseases and bad breath. Ask for advice from your veterinarian on which dental products work best to clean their teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth.

Trim their nails once or twice (or as needed) to maintain them tidy and in good condition. Make sure you do this often to avoid very long nails as it can be unpleasant for your Basenji. While you trim their nails, inspect their paw pads to see if it is injury-free and dirt-free.

Habitually examine your Basenji’s ears for dirt and wax buildup. Wipe their ears using a moistened cotton ball with an ear cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Remember never to use cotton swabs within their ear canals, which can injure them. Tell your veterinarian about it if you detect any foul smell, inflammation, soreness, or swelling, or they frequently shake or scratch their head and ears, as this may be a sign of an infection.

Moreover, examine their body as you groom your Basenji if there are any rashes, inflammations, wounds, and other signs that they may have an infection. Their eyes must be healthy, tidy and clear without soreness and discharges. 

Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws


Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

Basenji’s average life expectancy is between thirteen to sixteen years, provided that they are adequately cared for, given a high-quality and healthy diet that fit their age and needs, and exercise.

These energetic dogs are known to be a healthy breed. However, the Basenjis can have some of these health conditions listed below:

  • Immunoproliferative Systemic Intestinal Disease – it is commonly known as malabsorption. This health condition is comparable to irritable bowel syndrome in humans. Affected Basenjis will have frequent loose stools and trouble with weight gain. Treatment includes changing the diet often, minimizing stress, and medication to decrease histamine reaction.
  • Hypothyroidism is caused by a deficiency of thyroid hormone and may create signs that include mental dullness, obesity, infertility, and lack of energy. Medication must continue throughout their life.
  • Fanconi Syndrome is a kidney disease that involves the normal processing of sugars and proteins in the body. Indicators include excessive urination, excessive thirst, and high levels of glucose in their urine.
  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia) is a genetic health condition in which they have two defective genes to produce their pyruvate kinase, which is an enzyme needed to maintain healthy red blood cells.
  • Hip Dysplasia is an abnormal formation of their hip socket that can result in lameness and arthritis of their joint.
  • Umbilical Hernia is present at their birth where abdominal fat or internal organs bulge against their abdominal wall near their umbilicus. If the hernia is minor, it can be left without treatment. 

Children & Other Pets

Not many know that Basenjis are very fond of children. But because of their high energy, it is best to let the older kids interact or play with these dogs. Aside from being knocked down by a playful Basenji, younger children do not know how to interact with these dogs appropriately. But then again, even with older children, it is still best to oversee any interaction between your Basenji and a child to maintain order and avoid any accidents that may hurt both of them.

Basenjis with small animals may not be a good idea as they have a high prey drive and may see them as fair game unless they have been raised together. This recognition, however, may not apply to small animals they see outdoors.

Basenji Dog Breed | The Pedigree Paws

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